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Jul 13, 2020 - 2:27:14 PM
5 posts since 7/10/2020

I’m looking at buying my first banjo. I thought about saving up for a Deering Goodtime 2, but I have been offered a Fender FB-54 for a lot less. Your thoughts? Thanks!

Jul 13, 2020 - 2:35:10 PM
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2176 posts since 5/2/2012

I used to own a FB-54, and was not pleased with it. Neck too narrow, poor tone/sound (but was loud). Goodtimes are well thought of here on the HO. I think if you got the Fender you would be looking for a step up banjo real quick, and the Goodtime would be a logical choice for that, so you might as well go for the Goodtime if you are making a long term commitment to learn to play the banjo.

Edited by - thisoldman on 07/13/2020 14:37:11

Jul 13, 2020 - 2:49:39 PM
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550 posts since 8/14/2018

If you don't want to spend as much as the Goodtime, Recording King and Goldtone are the usual alternatives suggested here. Or buying used. An RK will still be more than the Fender, but unlike the Fender, will actually be worth what you pay for it.

Jul 13, 2020 - 2:55:13 PM

2271 posts since 12/31/2005

What is the price you are getting for the FB-54?

I would have to respectfully disagree that the Goodtime is a "step up."  Great starter and second/camping banjo.  It serves a great purpose.  I advocate the first purchase being something playable/tunable and saving for a real jump, which can be done in the $800-1000 range these days.  Unless you can afford 800-1000 for a starter, then do that.  You lose money "moving up."  Take fewer steps and put the money into something that will stay with you (says the guy who has bought way too many banjos over his life)

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 07/13/2020 15:12:03

Jul 13, 2020 - 3:13:51 PM

2176 posts since 5/2/2012

I agree that there are worthy alternatives to the Goodtime if you are looking to buy new. The Goodtime is a shade under $700 new. A Recording King RK-20 Songster is about $550. A Gold Tone CC-100R is at the same price point.

If you are looking at a new Goodtime 2, you might be able to get a used Recording King R35 or a used Gold Tone OB150 at that price point.  Check out the Marketplace/classifieds here, as there are some nice used newer and vintage banjos in the $500-700 range.  

Edited by - thisoldman on 07/13/2020 15:22:52

Jul 13, 2020 - 4:13:11 PM



21753 posts since 7/6/2005

There's a Goodtime for sale at a good price in SC near you on Craigslist.

Jul 13, 2020 - 5:01:10 PM

2271 posts since 12/31/2005

Originally posted by beegee

There's a Goodtime for sale at a good price in SC near you on Craigslist.

Nice find.  That is a good deal.  That is a bit of a hike if it's the one in Cowpens.  I am in next county. If you really want it, I could pick it up for you.  Won't beat that deal.  

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 07/13/2020 17:03:48

Jul 13, 2020 - 5:12:05 PM
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1275 posts since 7/12/2004

If you're looking for a decent new banjo for surprisingly little, check out the Gold Tone AC-1. Composite shell, like the old Harmonies, but they really sound good (unlike the old Harmonies) and are very playable. List price I think is about $220 open back, and a resonator is available which brings the price up to $300. I played one at a festival last summer and was astounded at the tone for a banjo of this price and weight.

Jul 13, 2020 - 5:55:31 PM



106 posts since 3/26/2014

If you’re just choosing between the two go with a good time but get it used Will save yourself some money. There’s a multitude of choices out there. You’ll find that everyone has an opinion. I own both a GT 250+  As for the good time americana that my wife just surprise me with for Old style music. What I like about the Goldtone is it’s a far more  instrument for the price you pay for it. I’ll never need to upgrade it. As for the good time I changed out the tuners for planetary tuners, It has remarkable sound for a inexpensive instrument. It’s made out of sugar Maple so it has no coordinator rights. That is a bit disconcerting. They both have their good points, however I get much more volume out of the Goldtone hands-down. I have also played there composite banjos which are cheaper a good option as well. I hope this helps you and doesn’t confuse you. The best advice I ever got when I was starting to look at Banjo pass my original composite, wants to try out Different instruments. Good luck with your search. And welcome To a lifetime of enjoyment.

Edited by - Edwards on 07/13/2020 17:59:21

Jul 13, 2020 - 7:43:23 PM
Players Union Member



393 posts since 9/10/2014

Reverb has a Epiphone MB 350 with case for right around $500

Jul 13, 2020 - 8:51:39 PM

5 posts since 7/10/2020

quote:Which one is it and how much?  Is it american made?  Thanks.

Originally posted by Brian Murphy
Originally posted by beegee

There's a Goodtime for sale at a good price in SC near you on Craigslist.

Nice find.  That is a good deal.  That is a bit of a hike if it's the one in Cowpens.  I am in next county. If you really want it, I could pick it up for you.  Won't beat that deal.  

Jul 13, 2020 - 9:20:49 PM

2271 posts since 12/31/2005

Jul 14, 2020 - 3:33:48 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


23785 posts since 6/25/2005

You do want to play bluegrass, right?

Jul 14, 2020 - 5:35:06 AM
Players Union Member



12721 posts since 8/30/2006

Helix Jackrabbit #010 is in the classified ads
Made in USA. Bamboo neck and rim
18 hooks
Rolled brass tone ring
Magnet mount resonator
6+ lbs
$777 + $50 shpg + $50 case = $877 new

Future Jackrabbits will not include the resonator at that price point

There are other smaller builders here on this forum

Jul 14, 2020 - 6:20:09 AM

14841 posts since 12/2/2005

The Fender FB 54 is what's known hereabouts as a "bottlecap" banjo, owing to its appearance when viewed from above - the pot is a single aluminum casting with the "flange" integral in the pour.

These banjos are/were made by the same tiny handful of Asian factories, mass produced and branded by the company distributing them. The only real differences amount to appearance and brand name.

Fender has an appealing brand name, so the name adds $$ to the price tag when essentially the same banjo, with a less-well-known marque, will cost less. Frankly, Fender made some very good banjos a few decades ago, but for the last 20+ years they've simply been putting their own badge on low-quality Asian instruments.

Bottlecaps can be good starters for those who can't or won't pay for more banjo. But I do think there are better alternatives out there. I think well of the Goodtime II, and it does have the American-built thing going for it. At the same time, some American based companies that source from Asia - including Gold Tone and Recording King - actually, IMO, offer more bang for the buck.

Jul 14, 2020 - 9:45:06 AM
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10845 posts since 2/12/2011

Go for a Goodtime.

Jul 14, 2020 - 1:01:04 PM

2538 posts since 4/16/2003


What kind of music do you want to play?
Old time?
Something else?

Do you want an open back or a resonator banjo?

What's your budget...?

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